Pablo Sandoval injured in Venezuelan League, Carlos Zambrano involved in brawl

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants third baseman was lifted after tweaking something while running out a grounder.

If you think that January is a slow time for baseball, then you just haven't been paying enough attention to the Venezuelan Winter League. Saturday's playoff game between Navegantes de Magallanes and Caribes de Anzoategui had plenty of excitement, including a benches-clearing brawl and an (unrelated) injury to a major league star.

San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who had previously helped Magallanes build a lead by hitting a three-run home run, was removed from the game in the eighth inning after appearing to tweak something while running out a grounder, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Francisco Chronicle. Given that Panda's team held an 11-2 at the time, Baggarly muses that the move was probably just a precaution. Sandoval missed time with a strained tendon in his left foot in 2013, but there is no indication that Saturday's injury is related to that in any way.

The real action came earlier in the game, when pitcher Carlos Zambrano found himself in the middle of a benches-clearing brawl. Big Z took exception to seeing his Magallanes teammate get hit by a pitch, and he led the charge out of the dugout. The 32-year-old made a beeline for the opposing pitcher and collided wildly with him, knocking both men to the ground. He then proceeded to throw several punches at whoever happened to be standing nearby.

Full video of the brawl, with optimal slow-motion replays beginning at 1:33.

Considering how much air El Toro caught with his fists, it's safe to say that he is about as accurate with his punches as he is with his pitches. The big right-hander, who has twice led his league in walks during an otherwise successful career, is currently a free agent and hasn't appeared in the majors since 2012. He is well-known for his emotional behavior both on and off the field, and this incident certainly won't help him convince teams that he has become more mature in his 30s.

(Also, note his teammate saving him from getting sucker-punched by an opponent while picking himself up off the ground at 1:37 in the video.)

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